MINNEAPOLIS — Few school districts in Minnesota are opting to put levy referendums on the ballot during this year’s presidential race.
The Minnesota School Boards Association says only 28 districts have items on the ballot this November, and only 10 of those are seeking money for buildings.
Minnesota school districts need voter approval for any taxes that go over a state limit. Every few years, districts must ask voters to renew or increase that authorization.
Association spokesman Greg Abbott said it’s hard to compete with voters’ attention during a presidential race, and when school boards can’t tell voters why they need money, it’s hard to get approval.
“Anytime you go up and try and put information out during a presidential election, it’s a very hard thing to do because you get drowned out,” he said.
Increased state funding and tax measures passed in many districts in recent years might also be a factor for the low number, he said.
Minnesota Public Radio News reported (http://bit.ly/2doQAw1 ) that Minneapolis is one district with a tax measure on the ballot. It is asking voters to renew an existing operating levy, with no projected tax increase.
Referendum campaign manager Donald McFarland said the money in question is about 13 percent of the district’s budget, and if the referendum doesn’t pass, each school will face cuts.
Last year, voters in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale district rejected a $900-per-student referendum increase in 2015. So this year the district is lowering its request to $630 per student.
“Even though it’s a presidential year, we just didn’t feel like we could take a year off and not try to push this forward, because it’s really that important for us,” Superintendent Christine Osorio said.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org